Melissa Fernandes logs on to the Internet and finds a lot of youngsters connecting across countries.
Friends play a very important role in our lives. Most of us need a friend at every step of life - to talk to, to share secrets with and to grow with. When we enter school as toddlers, we mix around with others and the first question parents often ask is, "How many friends did you make?"
A friend is somebody you gel with. You choose friends on the basis of certain beliefs, preferences, wants or goals. You may have many acquaintances and many friends but your best friends are always few in number. Nevertheless, you keep in touch with all your friends at any point of time and this determines your networking capabilities.
Years ago the telephone was the only way of connecting with people, but now one can keep in touch through the Internet. In fact, the Internet offers a variety of options, allowing one to hold online group conferences, play games and even challenge each other! The options are limitless.
One can use e-mails, tweets, blogs and photographs to connect with old friends or make new ones. A number of social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr, Friendster, Hi5, MySpace, Orkut and Twitter offer these options.
Leanne Frank, a 13-year-old from Canossa High School says, "I joined Facebook this year and I really enjoy it as I can keep in touch with my relatives who don't reside here."
Some have used these networking sites to reach out to old friends they had lost touch with. 15-year-old Pratik Amin says, "I had lost contact with friends from my old school but I found them again through Orkut. I now keep in touch with each of them and also make witty comments on their profile."
When you begin to socialise online you make more friends. They could just be an acquaintance or your buddy's friends and at times these extended contacts can help you a great deal. This especially comes in handy when parents move to a new city or country. If you are networked, chances are you would already have a friend in the new city!
Maria Rodrigues of class 7 from Canossa High School shares one of her experiences with us. She says, "I had taken a freaky quiz on the Internet where I had scored the highest and was truly proud of my score. Then one day some other girl defeated my score. From that day onwards we started chatting. Initially we made random comments on each other's pages but now we share all our secrets."
Many are not comfortable with the idea of online friends as they think it is not the right way to make friends. Making online friends could also be dangerous as it can lead to harassment or annoyance and there is no way to authenticate the information given.
The positive side of networking through the Internet is that it allows you to socialise with millions of people from different backgrounds and helps you learn about new cultures or new languages.
The best approach is to maintain a certain amount of distance from online friends and still be good friends.
We recently read about Mumbai's youngest Twitterers in Mid-Day. Here is an excerpt from their article:
Farrhad Acidwala, a 15-year-old who is ranked 45 in India, has 6,244 followers. Acidwalla has just finished his ICSE from Bombay Scottish. He's active on a blog that gets 25,000 to 38,000 monthly visits. He is also part of a community for website owners from around the world. But before all this, Acidwalla was just another boy wasting his time with games. Then he read an article on creating websites and within a week, he had his own up. He continued his journey online. And won his parents over by getting good grades too. Life offline is just as hectic. Acidwalla is passionate about aeromodelling, playing the guitar, reading and writing.
Monik Pamecha, a 13-year-old who is ranked 10,162 worldwide, has 15,087 followers. Pamecha goes to Lilavatibai Podar High School. He's been online for about four years now. He likes to blog about technology and also designs websites. One of these is iluvtech.org, a social networking website. "I love using gadgets," he admits. "I am also interested in Online Marketing, especially Social Media and I am running campaigns for a few companies. It's just a start; I hope to make it big later." He's thankful his parents give him the freedom to be online as often as he likes. He says, "Everyone in my family is curious about what I am doing..." When not posting, Pamecha plays soccer and table tennis.